The Story of the Red Kettle

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We’re officially in the Christmas season, and chances are you’ve seen or will soon see our Salvation Army Red Kettles and bell ringers while you’re out and about.

Our Red Kettles have become a holiday icon – just ask anybody about them and they’ll know what you’re talking about. But do you know how this tradition started?

Today I thought it would be helpful to share the history of The Salvation Army’s Christmas Red Kettle Campaign to give you a deeper understanding of the heart behind this century-old tradition. Here goes:

In San Francisco during December of 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor, but he had no way to pay for all that food from his own pocket. So the question remained, how would he do it?

His thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing he saw a large iron kettle called “Simpson’s pot” into which passers-by dropped charitable donations.

The next day he received permission to place a similar kettle at the Oakland ferry landing. No time was lost in securing the pot and placing it in a conspicuous position, so that it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferry boats. Beside it he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” Word spread of his endeavor and he quickly raised the funds to feed 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas day! But he didn’t end it there.

By 1985 the kettle was used in 30 Salvation Army locations along the West Coast, and shortly after they spread to the East Coast. In 1897, the kettle fundraising campaign in Boston and other cities helped pay for 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy.

Thus, Captain McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world.

Today, donations raised through our Christmas Red Kettle Campaign fund a vast range of Salvation Army programs and services that serve 30 million Americans year round.

So remember, when you’re dropping a donation in to a Red Kettle, you’re continuing a long standing tradition, but most importantly, you’re making it possible for The Salvation Army to continue to serve the those most in need.

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The Most Important Text Message You can Send

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recent studies show teens send and receive on average almost 3,340 text messages per month! Older cell phone users aren’t quite as active, but even those in their 50’s still average several hundred. To state the obvious – that’s a lot.

Imagine if we used even a small portion of all the text messages we send to make a lasting impact on others.

With The Salvation Army’s Text to Give campaign, we can.

Just text “GIVE” to 85944 to donate $10, and you will help provide a meal for a hungry family, a place to sleep for the homeless, job training skills for an out of work individual, or other life-changing opportunities for those in need.

That’s a text message that says a lot.

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Shopping the Most Good at Target

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not that some of us out there need any additional incentive to go shopping, but this week Target has a promotion that makes it pretty hard to resist.

For each Target gift card of $20 or more purchased in store from Sunday, Nov. 14 – Saturday, Nov. 20, Target will donate $1 to The Salvation Army (up to $400,000 total).

It’s a good way for you to knock out some holiday shopping and a great way to give back to your local community. Plus, can you imagine the look on Aunt Sue’s face when she finds out her awesome present is also helping serve people in need?

The Salvation Army is thankful for Target’s generosity, and we hope you’ll let them know how much their efforts are appreciated next time you stop in their stores.

Remember, this promotion goes through the 20th, so there’s only 6 days left to help The Salvation Army with doing the most good by shopping the most good !

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A Paper Angel, A Country Star

Monday, November 8, 2010

Country music star Jimmy Wayne will be performing in Nashville tonight at the ‘A Gathering of Angels Benefit Concert’ to promote our Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree program.

As an advocate of Angel Tree, Jimmy’s doing more than just promoting a good cause. He knows from personal experience the incredible hope it provides to those in need.

Jimmy survived a turbulent childhood and bounced around from foster home to foster home with his sister before ending up on the streets. During those difficult years they were also adopted angels, receiving Christmas presents from kind, anonymous donors through the Angel Tree program. The gifts were a source of cheer amidst an otherwise dark time.

The experience was so important to him that it inspired his 2004 hit song “Paper Angels,” referring to the angel shaped tags which represent the Christmas wishes of children and seniors up for “adoption.”

I wonder, did Jimmy ever imagine that one day he would be on the other side serving as a voice for a program from which he once received support? I don’t know, but the generosity of others certainly resulted in a life-changing impact on the course of his life (while a homeless teenager, an elderly couple adopted him for real and set him on the course for college and a music career).

By adopting an angel this holiday season through our Angel Giving Tree online program, you too can have a significant, positive effect on the life of a child or senior in need – we have more than 140,000 signed up this year. Just go to jcp.com/angel, or watch the video below to learn more.

Thanks for your support!

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Angel Giving Tree is Online! Adopt Your Angel Today

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This week is the official launch of The Salvation Army and JCPenney’s annual Angel Giving Tree online Christmas gift drive at jcp.com/angel!

Now you can play Santa for children and seniors in need by adopting these “angels” and buying presents from their wish lists.

Christmas shopping for family and loved ones is a daunting holiday task for almost everyone, but it’s especially so for those who don’t have the financial means to buy gifts. Fortunately, Angel Giving Tree online provides them peace of mind when generous supporters like you lend a helping hand.

Just ask Yolanda Wheeler, a blind, single mother from Jackson, MI raising two children and her teenage sister. Her kids will have gifts this year thanks to Angel Giving Tree.

To help other families like Yolanda’s just go to jcp.com/angel to adopt someone today. You can even choose an angel in your area by searching by zip code or find one according to age and gender. You’ll also be able to find gift drop-off locations or an address to mail your presents for free thanks to UPS.

There are more than 100,000 kids and seniors across the country waiting to be adopted. With your help, you can make sure they have some very-much needed presents waiting for them under the tree when they wake up on Christmas morning.

Hurry! The deadline for adopting and shopping is December 10.

To read the our official press release, click here.

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Donations to Nation’s Biggest Charities Drop 11%

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A new report shows that donations to the nation’s 400 biggest charities dropped 11% last year, the most significant decline in the 20 years it’s been tracked. Ranked #2 on the list, The Salvation Army was no exception to the decrease having seen an 8.4% cut in donations.

The effects of our country’s economic recession have put charities in a sort of Catch-22. More people are in need and the demand for assistance increases, but fewer resources are available to meet this demand.

We would like to point out though, that even though our total charitable donations fell during 2009, generous givers like you still contributed a record amount to our Christmas Red Kettles. Every little penny counts in our mission to indiscriminately meet human need, so thank you for digging deep!

As the holiday season approaches yet again, please consider how you might be able to help The Salvation Army serve others during this time of overwhelming need. Like the rest of the population, we aren’t immune to the economic hardships, but we are committed to “doing the most good” in all circumstances.

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What Example Are We Setting For Our Kids?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A recent study found that parents play a significant role in influencing their children when it comes to supporting charitable causes.

Children of parents who do not support a nonprofit are only 25% likely to grow up to be a donor, while parents involved in nonprofits increase their children’s odds of becoming a donor more than 80%.

This begs the question, what kind of example do we want to set for our kids? What habits and beliefs are we instilling in them? Most of us agree that raising responsible and caring citizens is important, especially with the growing rate of need in our communities.

Now you don’t have to be a board member of a charity to teach your kids about generosity and responding to need. I remember what a strong impact my parents left on me when they faithfully put a check into the church offering plate each Sunday and gave me a dollar or few coins so that I could contribute as well.

In a post titled, “Early Lessons in Generosity,” CBS Moneywatch’s ‘Bank of Dad’ blog offers some broad but practical suggestions about how parents can teach kids about philanthropy, such as bringing them with you next time you donate your family’s used items to a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store.

And with the holidays just around the corner, there will be plenty of opportunities for adults to involve kids in giving. How about letting them drop some money into a Salvation Army Red Kettle or pick out a toy for our Angel Tree program for a child in need?

If we want to ensure that the next generation understands the importance of giving, the best way is to make giving a family affair.

For information on programs and services offered by The Salvation Army, visit our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org.

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Up, Up, and Away!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Southwest Airlines announced they’re buying Airtran, a merge is pending between Continental and United, and Delta’s staying put but faces increased competition from these other guys.

A lot’s going on between these airlines, but most of us don’t get too involved in the nitty gritty details of their business beyond wondering about the future of our fare prices.

But, before you turn your attention to the next news headline, one more thing worth considering is the fate of your frequent flier miles. I know, you’re probably thinking, “C’mon Salvation Army, where are you going with this?”

As airlines make changes within their companies, some are also changing the stipulations around their frequent flier miles such as implementing expiration dates. Rather than just letting the miles you’ve accumulated here and there expire, consider donating them to The Salvation Army.

Just as we accept monetary donations and gifts-in-kind to help people in need, we also accept your donated airline miles. They are used to quickly transport Salvation Army emergency personnel and volunteers during times of national disaster, including Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. They also provide travel to individuals and families who are in need of emergency medical attention and social services outside of their area.

Recently The Salvation Army helped a sexual trafficking victim return home to South America, and an American soldier was also able to attend his father’s funeral across country days before he shipped out to Afghanistan – all thanks to your generously donated airline miles.

Visit our website HERE to see how your United and Delta miles can help ‘do the most good’ for people in need.

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Help a Child, Donate a Coat

Friday, September 17, 2010

You probably haven’t switched out the warm weather clothes in your closets yet to make room for fall and winter attire, but many local Salvation Army’s are trying to stay ahead of the game so that children in need aren’t left in the cold when the temperatures drop.

That’s why several Salvation Army ‘Coats for Kids’ collection drives are starting to pop up in communities across the country, and in the next few weeks some national football teams are teaming up with us for these events!

Check out the lineup:

Green Bay Packers

* Bring your gently used or new coats to the Packers/Bills game on Sunday, Sept. 19 between 8:30am and kick-off. Your donation will help The Salvation Army reach their goal of providing 11,000 coats for needy children in Wisconsin. If you can’t make it to the game, don’t stress – you can donate to Coats for Kids through Nov 7. Find more donation and volunteer info on the local Salvation Army’s website www.sagreenbay.org.

Indianapolis Colts

* Head to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, Oct. 10 where The Salvation Army will be doing their big drive event as the Colts take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year generous donors helped the Army collect more than 10,000 coats, and we’d love to see even more this year! You can donate up until Saturday, Oct. 30. Visit www.salvationarmyindiana.org for more info and find partner drop off locations here .

Chicago Bears

* For the 22nd year The Chicago Bears are lending The Salvation Army their efforts to help kids in the Windy City. Donate your coats between now and Dec . 4 at local Salvation Army units, or click here for partners’ drop off locations. Visit www.salarmychicago.org/events for more info.

This is not an exhaustive list of Salvation Army ‘Coats for Kids’ drives, so keep an eye out in your community. Otherwise, you can always take gently used or new coats to your nearby Salvation Army Family Thrift Store. Thanks for your support!

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We’re #5!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The United States has been ranked as the world’s 5th most generous nation, according to the 2010 Gallup’s World Giving Index. Rankings were based on responses to survey questions about the frequency of charitable behavior including donating money, volunteering and helping strangers.

Here’s who took the other top spots (repeated numbers indicate a tie):

1. Australia
1. New Zealand
3. Ireland
3. Canada
5. United States
5. Switzerland

Coming from The Salvation Army’s perspective, we’re not surprised that the American public has a big heart – much of what we do hinges on the generosity of others. According to our 2010 National Annual Report, more than 3,411,613 Salvation Army volunteers donated their time and effort last year! And during the last two years’ holiday giving seasons, when the economic downturn suggested that financial donations should be on the decline, Americans gave more than ever before to our Annual Christmas Red Kettle Campaigns!

What do you think about our nation’s rank as #5? How important do you think philanthropy is to the strength and well-being of a society?

And let’s extend the poll to our readers – In the last month, have you supported an organization or charitable cause by donating money, volunteering or helping a stranger? Bonus question: In which way of these ways do you like to give back the most, and why?

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